When I played rugby around the North of England and Midlands, we took preparation seriously. No drinking for at least 12 hours before the match. At least 10 minutes heavy bonding in the changing room, with much noisy foot stamping and shouting. And another five minutes hate-generation on the field before kick off (I was always excused this part, because by this stage my fuse was already alight). Must admit I was never convinced about this stuff, and was greatly relieved when I returned home to play in mid Wales, where all we had to do was be on the field by kick-off. Occasionally the odd player was still having a pee behind the big tree at Feggy Leasowe when the whistle went - bad form but nothing like as unacceptable as that French actor who took a pee in the aisle on a Cityjet aircraft yesterday.
Anyway back to rugby preparation - and the fearsome All Blacks. They have always been a bit unusual with the bulgy-eyed, Michael Jackson routine they call the Haka. But in today's press I read of an amazing new development which demands that the entire New Zealand population gives up sex until after next month's Rugby world Cup. All the nation's passion should be directed into supporting the national team. Now I might not have taken much notice of this, except that the media 'messenger' is Sean Fitzpatrick, one of the most inspirational captains ever in world rugby. If I was a New Zealander, that would be it until the world cup was safely in the cupboard. Sean's message is asking all New Zealanders to "selflessly step into the bedchambers of this fine country, throw aside your natural instincts, and your lacy underwear (especially the men), stand proudly in your flannelette's and whisper "I love you New Zealand".
Another idea the newspapers are reporting today which was considered by the All Blacks was to have near naked models on Harley Davidsons driving 1000 sheep through the streets of Auckland. Don't ask me why. But the Head of New Zealand's RSPCA was outraged that the rest of the world would see images of these sheep panting, scared and possibly injured as they clattered down the streets of Auckland. Now if he'd said this about the male pedestrians I could have understood what he was trying to say. Nice idea, but I can think of several reasons why I don't think this tactic would have worked - making sheep pant would not be one of them.
Now you may laugh at these ideas, but Clive Woodward taught us 8 years ago that attention to the most minor detail made the difference. With the support of panting sheep, naked female bikers, and an entire sex starved nation behind them, my money is on the All Blacks.